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Hairpocalypse 2020, Ladies’ Edition: How to Cut Your Own Hair During Lockdown

Woman trimming her split ends at home.
Nicoleta Lonescu/Shutterstock

Things in quarantine are starting to get hairy in more ways than one. As none of us will be seeing our stylist for a while, we’re gonna have to get inventive (and brave) if we want to avoid becoming Cousin Itt and cut our own hair.

Before you dive in and start hacking, though, consider if it’s worth the risk. If you can wait until you can get back to the salon, absolutely do so. Sure, we’ve got some incredibly helpful tutorials here, and if you follow one, you’ll probably do just fine. Still, the likelihood that you could end up looking like you paid a visit to Edward Scissorhands is very high.

If you just can’t take the split ends anymore, though, there are tons of resources out there to help you trim your own mop. For you adventurous lot, here are few things you’re going to need:

  • Professional shears: No, you shouldn’t cut your hair with the kitchen scissors or that plastic pair from your kid’s art box. You can get a pair of professional shears for pretty cheap. Like everything else right now, you might have to wait a bit to receive them if you order online. They’re also available at places like Walmart, though, so check around.
  • A brush and/or styling comb: To keep everything even, you have to make sure all the tangles are out before you cut. A comb also helps you align the ends before you snip.
  • A hand mirror: If you don’t have two mirrors arranged so you can easily see the back of your head, you’re going to need one of these to take a peek at what’s going on back there.
  • Clips and/or elastic hair ties: Have longer hair? You’ll need some clips to keep each section out of your way while you work on another. You can also use elastic ties to mark where to cut each section.
  • A cape or towel: You’ll want to protect your clothes and neck from getting covered in itchy hair.
  • A spray bottle: It’s usually best to do a DIY haircut dry, so you can more accurately gauge the length. If you prefer to cut wet, though, you’ll need a spray bottle to keep things damp.

Obviously, almost all the techniques we’re sharing will be easier if you have an assistant. Choose someone with an artist’s eye, if possible (unless they’re into abstract, then run away!).

If you’re on your own, that’s okay. Just take it slow, and remember, you can always take more off, but you can’t put it back on!

Mid-Length to Long Hair

Woman looking apprehensively at the scissors she is about to use to cut her own hair.
Roman Samborsykyi/Shutterstock

With the exception of the contortionist’s moves necessary to reach the back of your noggin, long hair is generally the easiest to trim by your lonesome.

If you can’t situate a mirror behind you to see the back, don’t worry—most of the stylists in the tutorial videos below don’t have one either. You should still be able to get the job done.

Straight and All One Length

If you just need to trim some split ends, and your hair is all one length, you’re in luck! This is one of the easiest cuts to do yourself. Again, we always recommend you cut your hair dry, as it’s much easier to avoid accidentally taking off too much.

For this technique, you’ll separate your hair into four sections first, and then use some elastic hair ties to mark the length that’s right for you.

When you do this, make sure the hair in each section is lying flat. Also, be sure to point cut—never cut straight across. Point cutting adds texture, and it’s also more forgiving if the ends aren’t perfectly even.

Follow the video below, and pause or rewind as necessary.

Straight and Layered

If you have mid-length or long layers, there are a few ways you can trim them up. (One method is at the end of the video above.)

The easiest way is to brush all your hair forward over your head. Make sure it’s as smooth and tangle-free as possible. Next, secure it in a ponytail with an elastic hair tie at the top of your forehead—this is why this is referred to as the “unicorn” method.

If you’re a bit more comfortable working with your own hair, the technique in the video above will give you more precise layers. However, the margin for error (i.e., more of your hair on the floor than on your head) is much greater.

Short Hair

A woman getting ready to trim her own hair.
Estrada Anton/Shutterstock

A little more anxious about cutting short hair than you would be if you had longer locks to work with? That’s a pretty natural reaction.

You can do this, though! Just choose the appropriate tutorial below, take a deep breath, and follow the step-by-step instructions.

Short, Straight, and All One Length

If you have a short blunt cut (a bob), it might be a little daunting to think about getting those ends completely straight when you cut your own hair. That’s why the video below is so helpful!

Heather (who’s a professional cosmetologist) adds some subtle layers to her hair. This makes it less noticeable if the ends aren’t perfectly straight. Your stylist can even things up next time you see her.

Short and Layered

If you have a short, layered style and want to trim it up, you can follow the same video we recommended in the Straight and Layered section above.

Has your bob turned into a lob? If you’re growing out your hair, but want to add some layers to make the transition a bit easier, the video below will help you out.

Bobs can be tricky to cut. However, transitional layers can really make a DIY bob cut as foolproof as, well, a DIY bob cut can get.

Curly Hair

Woman cutting her curly hair.

The best advice when it comes to curly hair is to cut it dry and take off as little as possible. Remember, you can always go back and snip off a bit more if you need to.

The professional stylist in the video below walks you through the process as she trims her own layered curls. You might want to do some finger yoga first, though. After holding your hair at some of these angles, you might start to feel like you’re getting carpal tunnel.

If you decide to cut wet, as she does in the video, do keep in mind your hair will be weighed down by the moisture. When it dries, it will bounce up a lot (hence, the advice to do a dry cut). If you cut too much, you’ll look like you’re about to board The Good Ship Lollipop after it dries.

Natural Hair

Woman with natural African hair cutting it at home.
Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

There are many DIY methods to trim your natural hair and, of course, it depends on the style. The video below offers the following three self-explanatory methods that can help you trim things up:

  • Search and destroy
  • Twist and trim
  • Stretch and cut

For some of you, at least one of these video tutorials has probably given you the confidence to at least attempt to trim your own strands. Good luck and safe cutting!

If you don’t need the additional anxiety of trying not to visually mar yourself, that’s fine! You can attempt something far safer, like giving yourself a pedicure! Might as well get those feet sandal-ready for when you can finally leave the house again!

Amanda Gambill Amanda Gambill
Amanda is the Managing Editor for LifeSavvy. She’s been writing and editing professionally since 2004. In her spare time, Amanda reads stuff no one else does (classics and historical bios), watches documentaries that put others to sleep (ancient cookware archaeologists found under a McDonald's), and writes stories about things that go bump in the night. Read Full Bio »
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